The food, the fashion, the beaches and the beautiful French peeps. Yes, St Barth in the French West Indies really is everything that you heard it is and so worth the 2-3 flights (hassle) it is going to take you to finally get there. It is just a 10 minute flight from St. Maarten, yet this little sparkly gem of an island is a world away. At Sparkle Bungalow we are all about knowing when to go high and when to keep it low. We are not going to lie, you will need to save your Georges for this trip. So, make peace with it and let the fun begin on this tiny fantasy island! We promise it will be worth it. We’ll give tips, per usual, if there are any corners to be cut to soften the blow of this sticker shock of an island.
We like to fly into St. Maarten and take Windward Air to St. Barth’s Gustaf Airport. The flight is a bit hairy but they are seasoned pilots and do this trip several times a day, so you’re in good hands.
TIP: This is not a Hawaiian shirt type of destination, our advice is to leave the Tommy Bahama garb (if it applies) at home. Pack your hippest and most fashionable warm weather duds and you will be right at home here. Sundresses and bikinis with coverups during the day and fashionable and hip dress at night.
TIP: To save some cash, we like to go before or after the high season. Prices peak from mid-December through the New Year when the harbor of Gustavia is packed with yachts. Some hotels even have a 14 day minimum requirement during this time. We prefer it much more laid back in the off-season.
We made a quick recovery from our hair-raising landing onto St. Barth when Sylvain, the Hotel Guanahani chauffeur, picked us up with a smile at the Gustaf Airport and welcomed us to the island. The trip was already off to a great start with Sylvain and our complimentary ride!
Once our shuttle arrived at the hotel we were greeted by Martein, the hotel GM, who opened our doors and escorted us into the beautiful lobby. Martein instantly made us feel at home while were checking in and brought over two glasses of champagne. We knew that Hotel Guanahani would be our happy place. 🙂
Our one-bedroom suite was even more spectacular than we anticipated. St. Barth is all about the casual elegance and Hotel Guanahani gets it right. The decor was modern, Caribbean cool with white, turquoise and orange accents and beautiful white beamed ceilings. Our suite was lovely and spacious and had an enormous ocean view deck complete with lounge chairs, dining furniture and candles. Some of the suites at the hotel even have their own private pools. We have our eye on one for our next stay!
Breakfast is included in the rate (a huge perk) and you can have it delivered to your room or go to Indigo Restaurant and have it poolside with an ocean view. Although it was a struggle to get out of our most comfy beds, we made ourselves get up and to go to Indigo every morning for one of the most delicious hotel breakfasts we have ever had. Everything is fresh, cooked to order and you can pretty much have whatever it is that your stomach desires. We almost felt guilty about overindulging every morning (knowing we would have to be in bikinis) but the gym is just a steps away from the restaurant and the ocean view made our workouts much more tolerable!
With the beautiful beach and pool there really isn’t much of a reason to ever leave this paradise and if we didn’t have a whole island to explore, we probably wouldn’t. We loved hanging by the beach on the comfy lounge chairs under the umbrellas and every morning when we arrived Anthony would greet us and get us set up with towels and whatever else we needed.
Everything about this hotel is just perfect but what really sets it apart from all the others is the impeccable service. We felt special every moment that we were here. It is definitely a splurge to stay at Hotel Guanahani but we cannot imagine staying anywhere else while on St. Barth. We could move right in and live here!
Standouts: Virginie at the front desk is remarkable and knows everything there is to know about the hotel and the island. Whenever we had questions ( which seemed to be often) Virginie always had answers and a smile. We immediately loved Martein, the hotel GM, and the vibe that he brings to the hotel. Martein is professional, yet sincere and always made us feel at home. We promise that Virginie, Martein, Anthony, Sylvain and everyone else at Hotel Guanahani will all take very good care of you while you are here.
TIP: We love the tropical weather in St Barth but humidity is not kind to our hair. Not to worry, the peeps at Hotel Guanahani have thought of everything and the Frederic Fekkai Salon is right at the hotel spa. We splurged for a blowout with Jonathan and he worked magic as he smoothed out our hair. We loved Jonathan and it was definitely worth the cash as we had frizz-free hair for days.
Before you go, check out the work of French photographer Jean-Philippe Piter, who now resides in St Barth. His magazine PURE is appropriately named, it is pure St Barth. The magazine is free around the island and loaded with his photos and the signature nudes that he is famous for. You can only find his limited edition book, Eye of St. Barth, at Clic Gallery in Gustavia, St. Barth. We had to have it. Ask for Brigitte Fassy when you stop by. She is lovely and helped us find everything that we were searching for and had other great recommendations.
When on St Barth, we can never resist a visit (or two) to the high fashion boutique Stephane and Bernard. This very special boutique is loaded with the best names in fashion including Missoni, Valentino, Herve Leger, Versace, Eres and much, much more but no designer label can outshine the owners themselves. Stephane and Bernard are two of the most elegant men we have ever met.
Their story is one of fashion magic and we were fascinated with them. Stephane, who years ago owned a very successful modeling agency in Paris, accepted an offer from one of his models to spend Christmas in Guadeloupe. Bernard, the model’s brother, was sent to the airport to greet Stephane and it was love at first sight. The two have been inseparable from that first airport glance 40 years ago!
With a long affinity for St Barth, the two decided to make the move from Paris. Unsure of what they would do for work, they called a handful of close friends (Valentino and Yves St. Laurent to name a few) to talk about the possibility of carrying their lines in a new boutique. The rest is fashion history and the Stephane and Bernard boutique in Gustavia has been dressing women for 32 years.
This boutique is personal shopping at its finest and they are happy to close the shop to other customers to only focus on you, if you need their undivided attention. Not only do Stephane and Bernard love women, but they know women and know what will look best on them, even if you aren’t a supermodel. They take a very personal interest in learning about their clients needs and lifestyles and what designers and pieces will work to best flatter them.
TIP: Stop by and take a peek into this charming boutique while on St Barth and to chat with Stephane and Bernard. You can’t help but feel inspired by Stephane and Bernard’s positivity and their love of fashion, life and each other. We could stay for hours just chatting with them. 🙂
Going to St Barth is already a big splurge but if you want to take your splurge up a notch, you must stop by Gems in Gustavia.
We love this store not only for its exquisite Tahitian pearls, rose gold and diamonds, but for the owners Chrissy and John. There is never any pressure to buy and they are excited just to show you their beautiful finds and hand-made jewelry. Chrissy has a keen eye and knows just exactly what will look best on you. She always remembers our personal preferences from previous visits to the store.
Pearls range in price from a bracelet for 59 euros and up from there. If you don’t see exactly what you had in mind, John will custom make it for you. We couldn’t resist the Tahitian pearl and leather bracelets and a stunning rose gold necklace with a cutout of the island for our memories. We have never regretted a purchase and always stop by when on the island for Chrissy and John’s warm customer service and the beautiful creations that fill their store.
With days spent going from the beach to lunch and back, we were in some serious need of some snazzy beach coverups. Donalé St Barth is just the spot and has, what we think, is the best selection on the island.
The vibe is sophisticated bohemian and we had a blast shopping and chatting with Virginie, the store owner. Virginie knows her coverups and somehow everything she picked out for us looked better on us than what we chose ourselves. We couldn’t stop at just one and got carried away with all the beautiful choices. We had to snap out of it and remind ourselves that we don’t actually live in St. Barth and probably wont be wearing beach coverups to lunch back in Los Angeles. However, we did each splurge on a beautiful ivory and black kimono that has made its way out of our closets at night several times back in California over slip dresses and jeans.
TIP: We were on a mission to find coverups and had to stay focused but Donalé offers much, much more. You can find everything you need from clothes, shoes, jewelry to handbags and more. It is definitely worth a visit!
Of course, a trip to St Barth means afternoons at the beach and Saline Beach should not be missed. Saline is our most favorite beach on the island and one visit and you will understand why. The water is breathtakingly blue and the sand is so fine that you will feel like you are walking on velvet. The sea is warm, yet refreshing and we were in no rush to get out. Saline Beach is truly nature at its finest and the best part is that it is public. No need to stay at a swanky hotel to tan yourself here, it’s free to everyone! Bikinis are optional if you’re a free spirit. 😉
TIP: We love Le Grain de Sel, which is just steps from Saline Beach, for lunch. It has fresh, local Caribbean fare at prices that are reasonable for St. Barth…win win. It’s an open air, laid back restaurant with a view of the salt pond and a warm and friendly staff. Perfect for lunch before a day at Saline Beach or after for a rosé. We loved the mahi mahi and the conch entrees.
From the moment we were greeted and seated by Patrick, one of the co-owners of Black Ginger, we knew a good time was to be had. After seating us, Patrick brought us a special concoction of champagne and mango…never a bad way to start the evening. Patrick is passionate about his restaurant and it shows in every way from the decor, the food and the entire vibe.
The chefs were hand-picked directly from Bangkok and the food is incredible. We started with the green papaya and green mango salad and the lobster spring rolls. For our main course we loved, and still dream about, the Tom Ka Kai ( chicken, lemongrass and coconut milk and rice) and the Crying Tiger Beef. With food this fab we wanted to keep it coming, so dessert was a must. We highly recommend the coco and mango rice with fresh fruit.
We loved this place so much that we wanted to come right back the next day for lunch but when we asked Patrick if they were open for lunch, he responded with “of course not girls, we are at the beach living life.” We knew we liked his style and Patrick personifies what St Barth is all about!!! Black Ginger is one of our new favorite restaurants and a must when in St. Barth.
Do Brazil took us a little work to find (it is located on the outskirts of Gustavia) but once we made it there we were glad we persevered in our search. We were welcomed by manager David Mouten and instantly all was well! David does his best to see that everyone is well taken care of and having a good time and we were no exception.
We jump started our dinner with a rosé and signature “Passionrita” cocktail. Note to self…this fruity libation can really sneak up on you! David started us off with a delicious appetizer of fresh tartare de mahi mahi with mango and avocado. With so many tempting creations on the menu it was hard to choose an entree and we may have gotten carried away with our ordering. We followed up our appetizer with the seared beef steak, the sea scallops and shrimp kabobs and the sides of vanilla sweet potato puree are a must. The fish is local and fresh and all our portions were generous.
Since Do Brazil is located on Shell Beach (which really is made up of shells) we decided a return trip for lunch was in order to check out the beach in the light of day. The vibe was happening with live music and beachside tables. We kept the food a little lighter this time and had caesar salads with shrimp and a little rosé. We had a great time and saw no reason to leave Shell Beach or Do Brazil anytime soon.
No trip to St Barth is ever complete without a night out at Le Ti St Barth. You can never really be sure what to expect but fun, and a few characters, are almost always a guarantee. We went on a Friday night and we were seated in the intimate square dining room where velvet curtains and dark walls set the tone for dinner and a cabaret show.
We must say, we came for the fun and did not expect our dinner to be so tasty. We loved the lobster ceviche and the beef filet is some of the best on the island. The show began and it was sexy and entertaining and not the slightest bit sleazy. We were feeling festive and when manager Fiorenzo brought over tequila shots, who were we to say no?
TIP: Plan on making it a late night when you go to Le Ti. The real fun starts (after whatever show is going on that night) when the tables are moved against the wall and the party begins. The costumes come out and it’s your turn to do the dancing. So, if a waiter hands you a getup…put it on and dance on a table or two. We had a blast!
Stephane and Bernard
Rue de la Republique, Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, FWI 97133
Rue de General de Gaulle, Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, FWI 97133
+590 590 27 50 40
Donalé St Barth
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, FWI 97133